(Reprinted from September 15, 2008 HealthLeaders Media)
Every day, federal agencies quietly announce grants and other competitive bidding opportunities for almost every different kind of medical specialty and subspecialty. These kinds of solicitations present attractive opportunities for providers in all areas of the healthcare industry and in all parts of the country. Collectively, they represent billions of dollars annually. Ironically, the vast majority of them will go unnoticed by providers in the private sector.
Federal agencies don’t do a good job marketing most of their business opportunities. Time-tested buying practices favor experienced government contractors—those who already have contacts and contracts, those who know where to look, and those who understand the procurement process.
Information about government contracts tends to be found in sources that simply don’t hit the radar screen of most providers in private practice. With the exception of major, multi-billion dollar initiatives, most federal healthcare contract opportunities will go unnoticed by the majority of providers best qualified to bid on them—until it’s too late. For HealthLeaders Media readers, however, that’s all about to change.
Get familiar with this site
For anyone interested in any kind of federal healthcare contract, this Web site, System for Award Management for Contract Opportunities is probably the single most important piece of information to remember. System for Award Management takes you to the official homepage for purchasing and procurement information for virtually all federal agencies. The home page provides links to numerous other sites that contain background material, references, and related procurement information. Most importantly, however, is that the home page includes search functions that allow one to efficiently identify contract opportunities that best fit an organization’s needs. Here’s how to do it:
- Go to: https://sam.gov/content/opportunities
- Scroll down to the “Search Contract Opportunities” search bar
- If you need more specific search parameters click on “Advanced Search” and fill in the applicable information
While this very basic search returns results for all “active” postings in this classification code, additional parameters allow results to be much more narrowly defined to suit the reader’s interests. While there are literally thousands of federal contract opportunities announced each day, it is relatively easy to isolate only those of greatest interest. In addition to performing a search based on user-defined parameters, the site also allows you to subscribe to a free e-mail notification service that automatically alerts you to any opportunity, or opportunities that meet the parameters you define.
The site recently underwent a major upgrade for the first time in a number of years. Like all interactive Web sites, some features are more intuitive and easier to use than others. While we find certain aspects of the upgrade somewhat confusing, you’ll be amazed at the range, scope, and amount of health-related purchases by the federal government. For example, on August 20, a search of SAM returned 1,367 announcements about healthcare contracts issued since January 1.
In next month’s article, we’ll discuss the Federal Acquisition Regulations—the regulations that specify how the government formally acquires goods and services.
Potomac Health Associates, Inc. is a professional services firm that specializes in federal health care contracting and business development for commercial clients. Since its inception, the firm has helped its clients win in excess of $450 million in competitive awards from the VA alone, and an estimated $3.8 billion in competitive and non-competitive federal contract awards from federal agencies.